What U.S. Fans Need to Know About the New EPL Teams
At the end of each season, the excitement of the English Premier League (EPL) table comes to a head with the relegation of the bottom three teams. For U.S. fans, there’s plenty of coverage about the fight to stay up and the anguish of the teams moving down to the Championship League, the second tier of English football.
After the last day of the EPL season though, it seems the new, promoted teams get little attention. The top two teams in the Championship league are automatically promoted to the EPL. However, it might surprise U.S. fans to know that the teams finishing third through sixth in the Championship table enter a playoff to determine the third team to move up.
For the 2020/21 season, Leeds United, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion are back in the EPL. What does that mean for Chelsea? Check out a brief history and get your official introduction.
Leeds United FC
It might seem strange to younger Chelsea fans, because Leeds have not been in the Premier League for 16 years, but our games with them were once the most eagerly anticipated of the year. Our rivalry started in the sixties with epic battles in the cups and at the top of the league table, culminating in a 1970 FA Cup final victory for the swashbuckling Blues. Older Chelsea supporters will welcome the return of the Whites and look forward to renewing acquaintances.
If Leeds are a traditional rival for historical reasons, then Fulham are high-stakes opponents for another reason – we’re geographical neighbors. Stamford Bridge is in Fulham – the nearest Underground Station is Fulham Broadway, and you access our stadium from Fulham Road. For much of our recent past, we haven’t been in the same division, but things have changed. Chelsea fans tend to view the Cottagers like an annoying little brother. We’re hoping they’ll only be a mild distraction to brush aside this season.
West Bromwich Albion FC
For many years, West Bromwich Albion had much in common with Chelsea. Until the Roman Abramovich takeover we were similar-sized clubs on the periphery of the elite teams. We’d occasionally mount a title challenge or string together a deep run in the cups. Their home ground, The Hawthorns, will always hold special memories for our supporters though. It was there, in May 2017, that Michy Batshuayi's goal clinched our most recent league title. The Baggies will be the first of the three teams we meet this season, and it’s an away fixture at those memorable grounds.